16 Interesting & Fun Facts about Michigan
Michigan is one of the most interesting states in America, with a long and varied history. From its Native American roots to its presence as an industrial powerhouse, Michigan has a unique story that’s full of fun facts.
In this article, you’ll find out some amazing fun facts about Michigan and its people, culture, geography, and more. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or just planning your first trip, these interesting & fun facts about Michigan will provide you with an even greater appreciation for the Great Lakes State!
Uncovering Michigan’s Fascinating History
Michigan is a state with a rich and fascinating history that spans centuries. Today, visitors to Michigan can explore its many museums, historical sites, and landmarks to learn more about this captivating state’s past. Ready for some fun facts about Michigan?
1. Michigan was the 26th state
Michigan became the 26th state of the United States on January 26, 1837. Prior to statehood, Michigan was a territory under the control of the federal government, and its residents had been petitioning for statehood for several years.
However, the process was delayed due to a boundary dispute with Ohio, known as the “Toledo War.” The dispute was eventually resolved in Michigan’s favor, and the state was admitted to the Union.
Michigan’s capital, Lansing, was chosen in 1835 as a compromise location between the state’s two largest cities at the time, Detroit and Grand Rapids. Today, Michigan is known for its natural beauty, thriving cities, and significant contributions to American industry and culture.
2. Michigan was the first state with Civil Rights laws
Michigan has a significant place in American Civil Rights history as it was one of the first states to pass civil rights laws that aimed to prohibit discrimination based on race.
In 1964, Michigan was the first state in the country to include civil rights protections in its constitution.
Michigan also played an important role in the Underground Railroad, which was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved African Americans to escape to freedom in the North.
Many abolitionists, found refuge and support in Michigan as they fought for the abolition of slavery.
3. Michigan’s name has Native American origins
The name Michigan comes from the Ojibwe (Chippewa) word “mishigamaa,” which means “large water” or “large lake.” This is a reference to Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes that border the state.
French explorers and fur traders were the first Europeans to visit the area and they used various spellings of the word, including “Mitchigamea” and “Michigame,” to describe the region.
The name was later anglicized to “Michigan” when the territory was annexed by the United States in the late 1700s. Over the years, the name has become synonymous with the state’s natural beauty, including its expansive lakes, forests, and rolling hills.
4. Cereal started in Michigan
Michigan has a longstanding connection to the cereal industry, as it was the birthplace of several major cereal brands.
In the late 1800s, brothers John Harvey Kellogg and Will Keith Kellogg were running a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, where they were experimenting with vegetarian diets and healthy foods.
One day, they accidentally left a batch of boiled wheat sitting out overnight and discovered that it could be easily rolled into flakes. They began experimenting with other grains, including corn, and eventually developed the recipe for cornflakes. In 1906, Will Keith Kellogg founded the Kellogg Company to produce and market the cereal, which quickly became a household name.
Another Michigan-based company, Post Cereals, was also founded in Battle Creek in 1895 by C.W. Post, who developed a rival cereal called Grape Nuts. Today, Battle Creek is known as the “Cereal Capital of the World,” and visitors can tour the Kellogg’s and Post Cereal factories and learn about the history of these iconic brands.
🌟 Curious to learn more about Kellogg’s and the history of cereal? Then check out the book The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek.
5. Detroit has a rich automobile history
Detroit is often referred to as the “Motor City” due to its historical importance in the American automobile industry. The city played a pivotal role in the development and growth of the industry, which began in the early 1900s.
Many of the world’s most iconic automobile brands, such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, were founded and headquartered in Detroit. The city’s close proximity to raw materials, such as iron and steel, and its central location within the United States made it an ideal location for manufacturing.
The industry brought jobs and economic growth to the city, and by the mid-20th century, Detroit had become the fourth-largest city in the country. Today, while the industry has faced challenges and undergone significant changes, Detroit remains an important hub for automobile manufacturing and innovation.
The city’s rich automotive history can be explored at museums and landmarks throughout the area, including the Henry Ford Museum and the Detroit Historical Museum.
The Unique and Colorful Landscape of the Wolverine State
Michigan, also known as the Wolverine State, is a place of natural beauty, unique geological formations, and diverse ecosystems. From the Great Lakes and their surrounding beaches to the forests, dunes, and sandstone cliffs of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan offers visitors and residents alike a stunning and varied landscape.
With over 19 million acres of forest, 11,000 inland lakes, and more than 3,200 miles of coastline, the state is a paradise for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone looking for a scenic getaway. Michigan’s colorful landscape is also rich in history and culture, with fascinating stories and landmarks that span from its earliest Indigenous inhabitants to its role in shaping the nation’s economy and industries.
Whether exploring the state’s natural wonders or its cultural offerings, Michigan offers a truly unique and memorable experience for all who visit.
6. You are always close to water in Michigan
Michigan’s unique geography ensures that wherever you are in the state, you’re never far from water. With over 11,000 inland lakes, more than 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 3,200 miles of freshwater coastline, there’s always a body of water nearby in Michigan.
From the crystal-clear lakes and winding rivers of the Upper Peninsula to the bustling marinas and beaches of the Lower Peninsula, Michigan’s waterways offer visitors and residents alike a wide range of recreational opportunities, including fishing, boating, swimming, and kayaking.
Beyond the recreational opportunities, Michigan’s close relationship with water has played a significant role in shaping its history and culture, from the original communities who relied on the Great Lakes for survival to the state’s industrial heritage as a hub of shipbuilding and manufacturing.
In Michigan, being close to water is not just a perk – it’s an essential part of the state’s identity and a cornerstone of its unique and vibrant culture.
7. In Michigan you can actually drive south to Canada
Although Canada is North of the United States, there is one city in Michigan (and the entire US) where you can drive south and end up in Canada. That city is Detroit, Michigan. Drive south across the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, ON.
8. Michigan Great Lakes has thousands of islands
There are over 30,000 islands in the Great Lakes, varying in size from tiny islets to larger landmasses that are home to communities and wildlife.
Some of the most well-known and popular islands in the Great Lakes include Mackinac Island in Lake Huron, Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, and Isle Royale in Lake Superior.
These islands offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore the natural beauty and diverse ecosystems of the Great Lakes region, from lush forests and rugged shorelines to historic lighthouses and cultural landmarks.
9. Michigan has an incredibly long freshwater coastline
Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline in the United States, with a total length of 3,288 miles (5,292 km). This coastline includes the shorelines of all five of the Great Lakes that border the state, including Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario.
The Michigan coastline is dotted with numerous beaches, parks, lighthouses, and other attractions, making it a popular destination for tourists and residents alike. Whether you’re interested in swimming, boating, fishing, or simply enjoying the beauty of the natural surroundings, you’ll find it along Michigan’s coastline.
Exploring the Hidden Treasures of Michigan
Michigan is a state full of surprises, and many of its most remarkable treasures are the basis for fun facts about Michigan as well as interesting weekend getaways or day trips.
From hidden waterfalls and secret beaches to forgotten historic landmarks and quirky roadside attractions, Michigan is full of unexpected wonders waiting to be discovered.
10. Visit the world’s largest Christmas store in Michigan
Michigan is home to the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, located in Frankenmuth. Spanning over five-and-a-half acres, this store boasts an incredible selection of Christmas decorations and gifts, from ornaments and lights to nativity scenes and artificial trees.
Open year-round, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is a popular destination for visitors from all over the world, with over two million annual visitors. The store’s incredible variety of merchandise, its festive atmosphere, and its commitment to spreading Christmas cheer have made it a beloved Michigan institution and a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the holiday season.
Plan a day trip or weekend getaway to Frankenmuth to explore the over-the-top Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland!
11. Michigan is a winter wonderland
Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland non-standing, Michigan is truly a winter wonderland, with a wide range of outdoor activities and stunning natural landscapes that are perfect for winter recreation.
From skiing and snowboarding at one of the state’s many ski resorts to snowshoeing or ice fishing in one of its many frozen lakes, Michigan offers something for everyone in the winter months.
Visitors can also explore the state’s many winter festivals, such as the Winter Wonderland Weeknd in Petoskey or the Winter Blast festival in Detroit, where they can enjoy ice sculptures, live music, and other winter-themed activities.
Michigan is also a popular destination for nature lovers, as the state’s many parks and forests offer breathtaking winter vistas, including frozen waterfalls, snow-covered pine trees, and stunning sunsets over the frozen Great Lakes.
Whether you’re an avid winter sports enthusiast or simply looking to embrace the winter season, plan a winter trip to Michigan during the cold months to fully appreciate the stunning beauty of the state.
12. Michigan has a floating post office
The J.W. Westcott II is a floating post office that has been servicing ships on the Detroit River for over 145 years. The ship delivers mail and other packages to passing ships while they are still in the water, using a rope and bucket system to transfer mail and other items between the ship and the shore.
The J.W. Westcott II is the only floating post office in the United States and is a unique and beloved institution in the city of Detroit.
In addition to its postal services, the ship also offers a variety of other services to passing ships, including pilotage, weather monitoring, and other navigational aids.
13. Look for Petoskey Stones when visiting Michigan
Petoskey stones are unique, fossilized coral stones that are found almost exclusively in the northern regions of Michigan, particularly along the shores of Lake Michigan.
Searching for Petoskey stones is a popular pastime for locals and visitors alike, and the stones are often used to create jewelry, decorative items, and other souvenirs. Finding Petoskey stones requires a keen eye and a bit of patience, as the stones are often well-camouflaged among the other rocks and pebbles on the beach.
Getting them wet helps you determine which of the rocks you find are actually Petoskey stones – you’ll see the unique markings once they are wet.
The thrill of discovering a perfectly shaped, intricate Petoskey stone is well worth the effort, and a ton of fun for kids! Many beaches in Northern Michigan offer ample opportunities for Petoskey stone hunting, and the activity is a fun and unique way to experience the state’s natural beauty and geological history.
🌟Petoskey, MI is a fantastic place for a getaway – even if the Petoskey stones are covered in snow there are plenty of fun things to do!
14. Spend a day (or more!) on an island without cars
Mackinac Island, located in Lake Huron between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, is a unique and picturesque destination that is famous for its charming Victorian-era architecture, stunning natural landscapes, and lack of automobiles.
Cars have been prohibited on the island since the late 1800s, and visitors must rely on bicycles, horses, or their own two feet to get around. This prohibition on cars has helped to preserve the island’s unique character and has made it a popular destination for those seeking a more relaxed, old-fashioned way of life.
Visitors to Mackinac Island can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and can also explore the island’s many historical and cultural attractions, such as Fort Mackinac and the Grand Hotel. The lack of cars on Mackinac Island is just one of the many unique and charming features that make it a must-visit destination in Michigan.
15. Check out the singing sand in South Haven
The singing sand in South Haven is a unique natural phenomenon that is found on the shores of Lake Michigan.
When stepped on or disturbed, the sand produces a distinctive, low-pitched humming or singing sound that is unlike anything else in nature. The sound is caused by the shape and size of the sand particles, which are all roughly the same size and shape and are thought to be the result of the unique geological conditions in the area.
The singing sand in South Haven is a popular attraction for visitors to the area, and many people come to the beach specifically to experience the eerie and beautiful sound of the sand.
16. Visit not one, but TWO of the world’s longest suspension bridges
If you love suspension bridges, then Michigan is the state for you as it’s home to TWO of the world’s longest – one you drive across and one you can walk across.
The Mackinac Bridge
The Mackinac Bridge, often referred to as the “Mighty Mac,” is a suspension bridge that spans the Straits of Mackinac, connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. The bridge is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world, measuring 8,614 feet in length and rising to a height of 552 feet above the water at its highest point.
The Mackinac Bridge was completed in 1957 and has since become an iconic symbol of Michigan, attracting millions of visitors each year who come to marvel at its engineering feat and stunning views of the surrounding area.
The bridge is also an important transportation link, serving as a vital artery for commerce and trade in the Great Lakes region.
The SkyBridge at Boyne Mountain
The SkyBridge at Boyne Mountain is a popular new attraction located in Boyne Falls, Michigan. It is a suspension bridge that spans 250 feet across a valley, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
The bridge is suspended 35 feet above the valley floor, providing a thrilling experience for visitors as they walk across it. The SkyBridge is open year-round, and visitors can experience different seasons and views depending on the time of year they visit.
In the summer, visitors can enjoy scenic hiking trails that lead to the SkyBridge, while in the winter, they can ski or snowboard on the mountain before crossing the bridge. Boyne Mountain Resort often hosts special dinners or other events like fireworks from the area as unique ways to enjoy the bridge.
The SkyBridge at Boyne Mountain is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Michigan, and it offers a unique and unforgettable experience for those who are brave enough to cross it.
🌟 Want to experience ALL that Boyne Mountain has to offer in addition to the SkyBridge? Check out this article with all the info you need for a visit to the Grand Mountain Lodge!
Conclusion: Fun Facts about Michigan
In conclusion, Michigan is a state full of fascinating and unique features that make it an exciting and memorable destination for tourists and locals alike. From the world’s largest Christmas store to the lack of cars on Mackinac Island, there is always something new and interesting to discover in Michigan.
The state’s stunning natural beauty, including its vast shoreline, picturesque lakes, and rolling forests, provides endless opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation. Whether you’re searching for Petoskey stones on the beach or walking across the SkyBridge at Boyne Mountain, Michigan has something for everyone.
These fun facts about Michigan serve as a reminder of the state’s rich history, diverse culture, and innovative spirit, and they are a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of the people who call Michigan home.